Dec 14, 2012

Deja Vu Blogfest

I loved this idea last year and I love it again, but knowing it is hosted by the incredible DL Hammons, I doubt anyone would expect anything different.  The idea is to re-post something we wrote during the year for whatever reason - maybe it didn't get the response or you really loved the post - whatever, it's the chance to revisit that post.

I wrote this post originally in July.  Check out the added information since it posted too :)

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As a writer, we hang out with lots of writers.  While writers like to write, there is also another common love that groups us together, that of being readers.  We hear all the time that good writers are good readers.  We jump around blogs, celebrating the new books that are coming out, talking about what we just read, staying up late because we just had to finish the book.

But I think we have another job as well.  We have the job of helping people be readers.

Think about it.  Reading in the nation has dropped and if people don't read, why are they going to care that we write?  Sure, it sometimes ends up with funny things like the examples in this article, except that after the laughter has died down, it's really not that funny.

I have three kids.  My daughters are pretty avid readers at their levels, one more than the other (enough that we have discussions about which Egyptian god would make shopping easier (Thanks Rick Riordan)), but my son and husband are a bit more reluctant.  Or they have been.

It's funny that the child of an English teacher would have a hard time reading, but let me share a bit of a trend I have seen, especially with boy readers.  If boys like fantasy stories, they seem to read quite a bit.  There is a great selection of middle grade and young adult books to help them stay interested.  Just walk through a library and look at the covers - dragons everywhere!

But the other kind of boy reader seems to be increasingly prevalent - the one who doesn't want fantasy.  We have had some success with Super Fudge type books, Holes went over pretty well, but when it comes right down to it, there aren't tons of boy middle grade non-fantasy books out there.  These readers tend to drift to the non-fiction (enter titles that involve most disgusting).  If you have a reader like this, let me share a huge discovery that has changed our lives here - find the book AND the audiobook to let Junior try at the same time.  Many of these kids don't have the understanding of how words sound to enjoy the book.

Hubby has been a reluctant reader our whole marriage - people were trying to push fiction on him.  He just doesn't want to read fiction.  So?  Working together, we have found two books he has enjoyed reading in the last two months.  While many of us are fiction writers, we have to remember these aren't the only books out there.

But even beyond the reluctant reader, we know writers have a great natural desire to pay it forward.  We read lots and even if it is just in the genre we are writing, I don't think it would be ridiculous when, in a library or a book store, if we see someone looking at a book, start a conversation with that person (Oh, I loved that book or This one is really good too if you liked that).

I know some of us tend to be shy or introverted, but think of the bigger picture. Get beyond book sales and money and think, really think for a moment, about a world without books.  Don't you think it's worth the few minutes of discomfort to know that there is a chance someone may find a book they enjoy.

Have you helped someone find a book before?  Did you experience a time when either you or a loved one didn't think reading was for them?  Any other suggestions about how to get people excited about reading again?

Bonus information - My son was reading at a 4.2 reading level at the end of his 5th grade year. When the same assessment was given at the beginning of his 6th grade year, it came back as an 8.3. My son’s reading level went up FOUR grade levels in the months over summer because of reading books with audiobooks.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good for your son! You just had to find what worked for him.
Never thought about there not being much else besides fantasy. I read fantasy and science fiction all the time, but that's what I was drawn to.

Yvonne's World of Poetry said...

Pleased your son has got on so well.
Good luck to him.


Cassie Mae said...

I totally remember this post :) And I was nodding the whole time because my hubby is the same way with books, but ever since I got my Kindle, he's been reading! I guess I just had to make it look like a video game ;)

Robin said...

Intrigued with the idea of the audio book at the same time for reluctant readers. And I have once or twice seen someone in Barnes and Noble looking at a favorite read of mine and telling them so (because I forget to be myself when surrounded by wonderful books), but so far it has resulted in them thinking I'm a little crazy and not buying the book-LOL

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Wow! That's an incredible improvement in your son's reading level. And I'll bet in his reading enjoyment, too ... since they kinda go hand-in-hand. I've had a lifelong addiction to the written word, and you could say I've helped promote reading by passing the "reading gene" to all my kids and grandkids. (HA!) I also recommend books to other people, and buy them as gifts. (Um, books, not friends.)

Jenny said...

My older son took to reading like a fish to water. My younger son was more reluctant, and I was so thrilled when he came to realize that reading was fun with the right book! My husband does not like to read fiction, which I will never understand :-)

Tami Von Zalez said...

Neither of my children are readers, while I am very much a bibliophile. Each Christmas I would buy them each a hardcover. I doubt they even opened them. I've rescued them and am saving them now for my grandchildren.

Enjoyed your post - visiting from the Deju Vu Blogfest.

Come and join my Countdown to Kitschmas.

Chris Fries said...

Excellent post to revive for DL's blogfest!

I've been an avid reader since being young. I love science fiction and fantasy, but as a kid in the 1960's I also loved Jack London books, The Big Red series, and other books about dogs, along with books based on the "Dragnet" TV show, "Rat Patrol," "Combat," and other WW II TV shows and related fiction for kids, sports-fiction books, and many other styles.

All fiction. It seems that now days, there's very little diversity in the range of stories marketed to kids compared to when I was a young reader.

I'm very glad that you found things for your son to read and that his reading level has improved so much! That's awesome. And for hubby too!

Arlee Bird said...

I like to encourage reading and tell people about things I've read that I'd recommend. It's enjoyable and enlightening to have a shared reading experience that you can discuss with others who have read the same thing. That was part of the beauty of certain college literature courses--delving into a work and discussing it in depth.

You're correct in saying that we should be doing all that we can to encourage others to read. Reading is a skill that takes practice to develop. Many people these days would rather dully absorb images and sound from TV and become too lazy to read. Reading is great for the mind.

Tossing It Out

DL Hammons said...

That's awesome about your son's improvement!! I'm shy and introverted, but I'll talk until my tonsils bleed with other writers! :)

Thank you so much for participating today! You picked a great post for a re-do!

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic. My son is 22 and an engineering student and STILL does not like to read. When he was little, we read to him all the time. But somewhere along the way, he decided he didn't like it-- I even tried Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and non-fiction like Krakauer. Just not his thing. My daughter, whoa, she is voracious with books! Viva la reading.

michelle said...

I'm popping in from the Deja-Vu blogfest.
I agree, 150%+ that we have another job, which is to help and encourage others to be readers, almost like a responsibility, maybe more so because we are writers... think about it, besides the educators, who are the people who are passionate about reading?
Your son's progress is amazing and he's blessed to have a proactive parent who recognizes the importance of reading.
I loved this post, Tasha. Thanks for sharing.

farawayeyes said...

For what would writers do without readers. I encouraged my girls to read, read, read. Of course, the fact that many of the places we lived did NOT have TV helped a lot.

Non-Fiction is sometimes harder to encourage, especially to girls, but no less important. Got mine started with biographies.

Cindy Dwyer said...

My 15 yo son never wants to sit and read, but once he gets captivated, he's hooked.

Cynthia said...

Hello from deja vu...My children are too young to read but they love being read to. That's how I'm hoping to introduce the reading bug to them.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Wow, what amazing progress! I started getting audio books with the paper books this past summer from the library. My kids like being able to read along. You make a great point about the lack of books outside fantasy for little boys.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

baygirl32 said...

4 grade levels! wow good for him.

Maybe I should get some audiobooks for husband -he's not much of a reader at all

Nicole said...

That's great! This was such an interesting post.

Tia Bach said...

Great post to revisit. I have three daughters. I have to beg my oldest to put books down to engage in life (never thought I'd ask a kid to put a book DOWN). But my middle daughter hasn't found a genre that gets her excited. I have to force reading time (as it is homework, and I have to sign). It was easier when she was little, and we could find humor books (like Captain Underpants, etc), but she isn't a fantasy/paranormal girl, and most of the YA/middle grade falls there.

We are still struggling, but find a book every once in awhile that she likes. We never stop looking. Recently she got into anything about the Titanic and would read about it. I'm not a nonfiction person, so it never dawned on me to take a reluctant reader and point her that way. But it seems to pull her in better (when she's interested in a subject).

Wow, you really made me think (I always know that it's a good post, when I basically write a comment long enough to be a post!).

Guilie said...

Excellent post, Tasha--we definitely should spend more time getting others to read. I don't have much experience with children, being childless and sort of averse to children (haha), but I do recommend my favorite books to anyone who will listen. I also try to find out what they read, what they've enjoyed (no sense recommending a Joyce Carol Oates to a huge fan of 50 Shades, for example) and tailor recommendations accordingly. I used to lend books, too, but I lost too many that way *sigh*.

mmahessh said...
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